Sutra 2.31: jati desha kala samaya anavachchhinnah sarva-bhaumah maha-vratam
These articles of supreme (because effortless) self-restraint or order are universally invariable in everyone seeking enlightenment. They are compromised only when there is disharmony and contradiction between, for example, one’s head – which seeks the order – and one’s heart – which seeks the concomitant of disorder, viz. pleasure. They are not affected or modified by distinctions of birth (class, tribal, etc), nationality or geography, epoch (ancient, modern, etc), or of circumstances (profession, life-style, contingencies, etc.) Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
These great truths are universal and inherent to all beings. If altered or ignored, the quality of life is greatly compromised. Translation and interpretation by Nischala Joy Devi
I adhere to very few (if any) absolutes, and the yoga sutras seem to be full of them! These I can work with, though, because they are relative absolutes –cause and effect structures. If I do this, then that will result. The universe is full of cause and effect.
This week, I turn to Nischala Joy Devi’s translations of sutras 2.30 and 2.31, who celebrates the cause and effect of the yamas.
2.30: Yama: the reflection of our true nature.
2.31: These great truths are universal and inherent to all beings. If altered or ignored, the quality of life is greatly compromised.
I also like that she reminds us that our yoga practice is about LIVING. It’s not a mystical practice, but one developed through the meticulous observation and discovery of what actions beget what states of being. If I smile, I feel better than if I frown (or at least, the chemicals that a smile releases in my body are of the feel-good persuasion). If circumstances cloud our experience of our “true nature” (our yoga practice is, perhaps, the process of exploring just what that is), then the result may very well be that our actions make it challenging to know that essence.Like today, I’ve been struggling with it’s-raining-and-I-really-needed-it-to-be-sunny brain fog. This hasn’t changed what needs to get done today, but it sure has changed my attitude toward my tasks! There’s something about the rain that makes me think there’s a universe in which my course planning for tomorrow will happen all by itself and I can plop myself on the couch instead of buckling down to engage with my prep work. As in, I’m really close to giving in because, well, it’s hard to see the sun through the clouds.
Amazingly, we have five (or maybe more) senses, not just one, and we have memory of past experiences (our own and those of the entire universe!), and somewhere in this brain and body is the information that supports the conclusion “if I leave my work undone today, I will feel even less clear headed tomorrow.” Knowing that, I can make a choice about how I want to feel and act accordingly.
Remember, neither choice carries judgment nor inherent value. Yoga ain’t nothin’ but an if/then practice (though it is terrifically complex in practice, the theory is beautifully simple!) That’s the universe for you!
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.